Alberta diversity advocate rallies crowd against hate

Chevi Rabbit has been turning hate into hope for half a decade.

'We won't let hate or bigotry sell into our voices,' says organizer of annual diversity rally

Chevi Rabbit started Edmonton's annual Hate to Hope rally after being attacked by a group of men in a parking lot five years ago. (Zoe Todd/CBC)

Chevi Rabbit has been turning hate into hope for half a decade.

A group of men attacked the gay student in an Edmonton parking lot in 2012. They ganged up and beat Rabbit while yelling homophobic slurs.

"People rallied behind me after I was assaulted," Rabbit said. "Edmonton is a really compassionate city... we won't let hate or bigotry sell into our voices."

Rabbit used the momentum to launch an annual diversity rally called "Hate to Hope." On Saturday, Rabbit lead about one hundred people across the city's High Level Bridge and onto Alberta's legislature grounds for the fifth time.
Edmonton's annual Hate to Hope rally takes participants on a march across the High Level Bridge and onto the legislature grounds. (Zoe Todd/CBC)

At its outset, the event was meant to raise awareness about hate and bigotry. After three years of successful turnouts, Rabbit decided to start raising money, too.

"The initial Hate to Hope was good because it was really empowering for me to speak up and rally for change," said Rabbit. "Then I thought I don't want to turn Hate to Hope into another non-profit, so I'll help other non-profits instead."

This year's proceeds went to the Trans Equality Society of Alberta.

"It's huge," said the organization's director, Stephanie Shostak. "We could use all the support that we can get."

The society is small but Shostak said she plans to use the donation to expand its work in the province.

"Hate in society has been around since the beginning and it's time that we step forward and try to put a stop to it."
Stephanie Shostak, director of the Trans Equality Society of Alberta, says her organisation can expand its work using the proceeds from Edmonton's fifth annual Hate to Hope diversity rally. (Zoe Todd/CBC)